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Darkwing

by Kenneth Oppel

It’s 65 million years ago, the last dinosaurs are dying out, and Earth’s mammals are living in a time of dramatic upheaval. Dusk is a small tree glider – a chiropter – who discovers that unlike the rest of his clan, he can flap his wings rather than just use them to glide downwards. His ability to fly is thrilling, but it also marks him as different, and he avoids exile only because his father is leader. But after Dusk’s community is massacred by a pack of weasel-like mammals, his flying ability and his echovision prove critical to saving the colony from annihilation as he leads them on a dangerous journey to find a new home. In the process, he finds other chiropters who can fly like him: the first bats.

This is a thrilling page-turner that will captivate young and old alike. Oppel’s consummate skill at inhabiting the minds of non-human creatures is on stunning display here as Dusk’s story races from thrilling discoveries to heart-stopping perils. Like many of Oppel’s protagonists, Dusk is the outsider who struggles to find a place for himself in his world. But Dusk’s story is interwoven with that of Carnassial, the newly evolved meat-eater whose determination to survive and dominate mirrors that of other creatures in this turbulent world and complicates the moral landscape of the novel. Dusk’s deep attachment to his mother, father, and loyal sister Sylph adds depth to his character and emotional resonance to the story of his quest for belonging. Fans of the Silverwing series will find this prequel immensely satisfying and will be clamouring for more.